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Arizona Governor Jan Brewer speaks after signing an expansion of the state's Medicaid program into law, at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix June 17, 2013. Brewer signed a law on Monday to expand Medicaid, embracing a key part of Democratic President B
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer
The Arizona legislature has passed a bill that would give businesses a free pass to discriminate against LGBT customers—or any other customers they claim it would be against their religion to serve:
“A for-profit corporation or business could trample on the rights of others by claiming that a legal requirement is religiously offensive,” Tracey Stewart of the Arizona Anti-Defamation League said in a statement in January.

Though the bill is aimed at ensuring Arizona businesses are allowed to refuse to serve gays and lesbians, it is written in such a manner that essentially any religiously justified discrimination could be permissible.

Please read below the fold for more on this story.

John Aravosis explains that SB 1062 weakens the existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act in two key ways. First, it broadens who can claim protection from discrimination claims to include businesses, not just individuals and religious institutions. Second, the government no longer needs to be a party to the discrimination dispute. Instead, the government would be barred from acting to enforce any anti-discrimination law as long as the business breaking the anti-discrimination law claimed it was for religious reasons. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the new bill is written so broadly that:

  • An employer could raise SB 1062 as defense to an employee’s equal pay claim under A.R.S. §23-341 arguing that his or her religious beliefs require that men be paid more than women.
  • The legislation could be used as defense to paying statutorily accrued interest on liens or other amount owed to individuals or private entities based on a religious objection to paying interest.
  • A secular corporation with religious owners could refuse to hire someone from a different religion, so as to avoid paying a salary that might be used for a purpose that is offensive to the owners’ religious views.
But of course, the main goal is to prevent businesses from getting in trouble for refusing to serve LGBT people. Republicans even voted down a Democratic effort to require businesses to post signs saying that they would discriminate on religious grounds. Because they should be able to do it privately and secretly, without the general public realizing that they're going into a bigoted business.

If Brewer signs this bill into law, Arizona becomes the state we boycott because of its anti-immigrant laws and its anti-gay laws. That's quite a distinction for a state to achieve.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:53 AM PST.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks and Daily Kos.

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